"No man can own the Dells. He can only be its custodian for a time." - George H. Crandall
 
Upper Dells Boat Tour
State Natural Area 283
Bennett Studio
Leopold Foundation
State Natural Area 97
State Natural Area 1
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The Wisconsin Dells and surrounding area feature a wealth of historical, cultural and natural resources for area visitors.

The area's beauty and diversified natural areas attract nature lovers and naturalists from throughout the world. The area's natural history - the meeting point of three geologic zones - offers spectacular vistas, unique forest ecosystems, breath-taking bluffs and rock formations.

We invite you to spend time in the Dells area, and we've assembled a potpourri of historical, cultural and natural destinations for you to enjoy.

ALDO LEOPOLD FOUNDATION

Exhibits and guided tours interpret noted conservationist Aldo Leopold's life and legacy. The building itself is also a unique attraction, featuring forward thinking technologies that allow it to produce as much energy as it consumes.

Leopold Foundation

BAKKEN'S POND (State Natural Area 247)

Bakken's Pond features a cold spring-fed stream with diverse invertebrate and fish fauna and contains emergent aquatic, southern sedge meadow and oak barren communities. Bakken's Pond is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1991.


THE BARABOO HILLS

The Baraboo Hills of Sauk and Columbia counties are all that remain of one of the most ancient rock outcrops in North America. A forested sanctuary underlain by durable rock called Baraboo quartzite, the Hills are an ecologically unique part of the Midwest.

Baraboo Hills

BARABOO RIVER FLOODPLAIN FOREST (State Natural Area 212)

The Baraboo River Floodplain Forest is a relatively undisturbed lowland forest that lies on nearly level terrain. Occasional sloughs are formed by the gradual filling of old oxbows. Large diameter trees dominate the forest. The understory is quite open with only a few shrubs and saplings. The property was designated a State Natural Area in 1988.


BAXTER'S HOLLOW

Remarkable for the large area of deep forest and the mountain-like creek that it protects, Baxter's Hollow is the Conservancy's largest preserve in Wisconsin. Despite years of human habitation, this area still seems wild and untouched.

Baxter's Hollow

BOWMAN HOUSE HISTORICAL MUSEUM

Located in the Bowman House Historical Museum, the Dells Country Historical Society offers information about the history of Wisconsin Dells and the surrounding area. Dells Country Historical Society, located in the Bowman House Historical Museum, 714 Broadway, Wisconsin Dells. Open June 20 to September 1, Monday, Tuesday, Wed, Thursday, and Saturday, and by appointment. Daily tours are given at 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.


CIRCUS WORLD MUSEUM

Circus World is a Wisconsin State Historical Society living museum that features a live circus and houses exhibits that include the world's largest collection of one-of-a-kind antique circus wagons, rare circus posters and graphics, and displays that tell the story of the Ringling brothers and the circus that made them famous.

Asia Wagon

DELLS BOAT TOURS

The Dells of the Wisconsin River are best seen from the water. Dells Boat Tours offer a variety of tours of the Upper and Lower Dells, as well as dinner or dessert cruises.

Dells

DELLS GLACIAL PARK TOURS

Dells Glacial Park Tours travel up and down, around and through wooded paths, the Lower Dells, Upper Dells, Lake Delton and Dell Creek.

Dells Army Duck

DELLS OF THE WISCONSIN (State Natural Area 283)

Although the Dells of the Wisconsin River are best seen from the water, State Natural Area 283 allows area visitors to walk to the river from two access areas just north of Wisconsin Dells. The paths wind through woods and clearings, offering a quiet respite.

Dells Boat in the Narrows

DEVIL'S LAKE STATE PARK

Spectacular scenery, a full range of recreational activities -- swimming, hiking, rock climbing -- and a full-time naturalist combine to make Devil's Lake one of Wisconsin's most loved state parks. The park is a unit of the Ice Age National Scientific Reserve and contains a segment of the National Ice Age Trail.

Devil's Lake from the East Bluff

FERN DELL GORGE

Fern Dell Gorge features a small but spectacular gorge cut into Upper Cambrian sandstone. The narrow 1/4 mile long gorge is a tributary to the larger Mirror Lake gorge. The vertical cliffs are shaded and moss covered, but predominantly exposed and dry, with seepages along their bases.

Ferns

FORT WINNEBAGO SURGEON'S QUARTERS

The Surgeon's Quarters is the only remaining building of the Historical Fort Winnebago, used from 1828 to 1845. The Surgeon's Quarters overlooks the site where Louis Joliet and Father Jacques Marquette left the Fox River at the east end of Wauona Trail in 1673. The Surgeons' Quarters was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and is open from May 15th to October 15th. Hours are Monday - Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from Noon to 4 p.m.

Fort Winnebago

"400" STATE TRAIL

Wetlands, wildlife, sandstone bluffs, rolling croplands and pastures are just a few of the sights you can enjoy on the "400" State Trail as it repeatedly crisscrosses the Baraboo River. The entire length of the 22-mile trail follows along the river valley from Elroy to Reedsburg. It passes through the communities of Union Center, Wonewoc and LaValle.

400 Bluff Trail

H.H. BENNETT STUDIO

Preserved by the Wisconsin Historical Society, the historic 1875 studio in which H. H. Bennett established his legacy offers a window to the life and times of the pioneering photographer.

Bennett Studio

HEMLOCK DRAW

Hemlock Draw supports a stunning contrast - plant and bird species typically found in the northern areas of the state growing close to those typically found in southern Wisconsin. The northern species may be relics from the time, some 13,000 years ago, when the edge of a towering ice mass stood just a few miles to the east.

Hemlock Draw

HOLIDAY SHORES WATERSPORTS

Holiday Shores Watersports, located three miles upriver from Wisconsin Dells, offers canoe, row boat and pontoon boat rentals in the Upper Dells of the Wisconsin River.

Pontoon Boat on Upper Dells

ICE AGE TRAIL

Part of the 1000 mile Wisconsin Ice Age Trail, the Sauk county segment is a wooded and grassy trail that climbs runs from Parfrey's Glen and the Ice Age loop and the top of the East Bluff of Devil's Lake. Along the path, visitors will find spectacular views of the landscape and the Wisconsin River to the south. Approximately four miles long, the trail takes about three hours to hike.

Ice Age Trail

INDIAN AGENCY HOUSE

The Indian Agency House, built in 1832, is one of Wisconsin's earliest houses. It was constructed by the US Government as a residence for the Indian Agent to the Ho-Chunk. The house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.


INTERNATIONAL CRANE FOUNDATION

ICF has gained international acclaim as one of the world's leaders in the conservation of endangered species. While visiting ICF, you will learn about the techniques used to preserve some of the rarest birds in the world.

Sandhill Cranes

LAKE DELTON WATERSPORTS

Lake Delton Watersports offers canoe, kayak and pontoon boat rentals on Lake Delton and the Lower Dells of the Wisconsin River.

Lake Delton Watersports

MAN MOUND COUNTY PARK

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this county park features a rare, man-shaped effigy mound with parking, picnic area and playground.

Man Mound Park

MID-CONTINENT RAILWAY MUSEUM

Mid-Continent Railway Historical Society--also known as Mid-Continent Railway Museum--is an outdoor, living museum and operating railroad recreating the small town/short line way of life during the "Golden Age of Railroading," spanning the years 1880-1916, with operating trains, educational exhibits, and displays of restored rolling stock.

Mid-Continent Railway

MIRROR LAKE PINE OAK FOREST (State Natural Area 406)

Mirror Lake Pine Oak Forest features a mature dry-mesic forest dominated by white pine and oaks, with dry sandstone cliffs, alder thicket, and scattered vernal ponds. The gently undulating sandy uplands west of Mirror Lake support the forest, which is dominated by white pine, white oak, red oak, and black oak. Red pine is co-dominant above the sandstone cliffs flanking the lake and is locally present elsewhere. Mirror Lake Pine Oak Forest was designated a State Natural Area in 2003.


MIRROR LAKE STATE PARK

Mirror Lake State Park is named for its centerpiece, a lake which often is so calm that not a ripple marks its surface. The lake reflects a wooded shoreline with cliffs up to 50 feet high, a swimming beach, and wetlands that are home to a variety of wildlife.

Mirror Lake

NATURAL BRIDGE STATE PARK (County Hwy C, Leland)

Discover one of the oldest sites of human habitation in the Midwest, where soot from the campfires of the earliest inhabitants, 10,000 to 12,000 years old, is still visible on the soft sandstone walls. A self-guided nature trail explains the many ways native plants were used throughout history by Native Americans and early European settlers.

Natural Bridge

Newport Park

70 County A at the confluence of Dell Creek and the Wisconsin River in the Lower Dells next to River's Edge. Opened to the public in 2012 with picnic shelters, restrooms, fishing pier, boat launch (fee of $8.50), electricity, and beach (swimming is not recommended due to dangerous currents).


ORIGINAL WISCONSIN DUCKS

Duck tours of the Lower Dells remain a favorite way to see the river. Original Wisconsin Ducks has been navigating the land and river for almost 60 years with 90 WWII-era landing craft.

Wisconsin Ducks

PAGE CREEK MARSH

This large wetland preserve supports a rich diversity of plants, waterfowl and grassland birds. The creek winds through gently rolling farmland enhanced by remnants of native prairie and oak savanna. Broad sedge meadows, marshes and areas of open water afford habitat to several rare species.

Page Creek Marsh

PARFREY'S GLEN (State Natural Area 1)

Parfrey's Glen, Wisconsin's first State Natural Area, is a spectacular gorge deeply incised into the sandstone conglomerate of the south flank of the Baraboo Hills. The exposed Cambrian strata provide excellent opportunities for geological interpretation. The walls of the glen - a Scottish word for a narrow, rocky ravine - are sandstone with embedded pebbles and boulders of quartzite. The moss-covered walls are moist from seepage, cool and shaded.

Parfrey's Glen

PIONEER LOG VILLAGE AND MUSEUM

Pioneer Log Village and Museum features fully restored and authentically furnished log homes, built about 1850; log library, blacksmith shop country school and country store; and, the cemetery and log-constructed Missouri Synod Lutheran Church, built in 1876. Visitors will enjoy tours through three museum buildings containing farming artifacts, furnished pioneer kitchen living room and bedroom, and an apothecary shop.


QUINCY'S BLUFF

Quincy's Bluff is akin to stepping into a time machine, traveling back some 300 years to experience the once vast Wisconsin wilderness. The view reveals not a trace of human habitation. As far as the eye can see in every direction, there are only wooded ridges, steep bluffs, open cliffs and wetlands.

Quincy Bluff

RIVER'S EDGE CANOE AND BOAT RENTALS

River's Edge Resort, located in the river corridor in Lake Delton, offers canoe, kayak and boat rentals in the Lower Dells.


RIVERSIDE & GREAT NORTHERN

The Riverside & Great Northern is a non-profit preservation society dedicated to the preservation and restoration of steam powered trains. The society operates a 15-inch gauge railroad along a 3-mile round trip through the wooded natural area along the west bank of the Wisconsin River at the Dells.

RGN Railroad

RIVERWALK

Winding above the river for about a half mile behind downtown Wisconsin Dells, RiverWalk overlooks the river and rock formations, and allows visitors a quiet escape from the bustle of Wisconsin Dells. RiverWalk entrances are marked at several downtown locations.

RGN Railroad

ROCHE A CRI STATE PARK

Roche-A-Cri State Park, established in 1948, includes a 605-acre park area. Roche-A-Cri comes from French words meaning "crevice in the rock." The park has a 300-foot-high rock outcropping with a wooden stairway to the top. There are Native American petroglyphs and pictographs.

Roche a Cri Bluff

SAUK COUNTY HISTORICAL MUSEUM

Housed in a 14-room Tudor Revival style mansion built for Baraboo banker Jacob Van Orden in 1903, the Sauk County Historical Museum's collection of Sauk County memorabilia is displayed in twenty different areas on all four floors of the mansion. The exterior and interior remain as they were in 1903.


SOUTH BLUFF/DEVIL'S NOSE (State Natural Area 97)

South Bluff/Devil's Nose encompasses a huge expanse of the forested southern flank of the Baraboo Hills and provides habitat for numerous rare plants and animals. The majority of the site is southern mesic and dry-mesic forest of sugar maple, red oak, white oak, basswood, and hickories. Within the site is Pine Glen, a deep spectacular gorge cut into the Baraboo quartzite. On its south slope is a small cedar glade and dry prairie that have unusual floras including rare species such as tubercled orchid, slender bush-clover, and purple milkweed. South Bluff/Devil's Nose was designated a State Natural Area in 1972.

South Bluff

SPRING GREEN PRESERVE (The Wisconsin Desert)

Get a taste of the American West - a land of cacti and lizards, sand dunes and dry grasses - in Sauk County. Known as the "Wisconsin Desert," the Spring Green Preserve is a place where forest meets bluff, and bluff levels off into plains and dunes.

Spring Green Desert

VERTICAL ILLUSIONS

Vertical Illusions offers kayaking on the Dells of the Wisconsin River, as well as rock climbing, biking and hiking outdoor adventures, with certified quides. Vertical Illusions is "Travel Green" certified.

Vertical Illusions

If you know of a historic, cultural or natural tourism opportunity that we've missed and you would like to have listed on our website, please contact our webmaster using the link at the bottom of the page.

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